H. H. Brix Mansion (1911)
2844 Fresno Street
Edward T. Foulkes, Architect
The Brix Mansion was constructed for Herman H. and Helena S. Brix in 1910-1911. Herman H. Brix made a pioneering contribution to the development of Coalinga and was influential in the commercial expansion of Fresno.
Born in Germany in 1862, Brix immigrated to the United States in the early 1880s, eventually arriving in California. He and his wife were among the pioneering settlers of the Coalinga area, on the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley. After an unsuccessful attempt at grain farming, Brix left to seek his fortune in the Alaskan gold rush. Meanwhile, Coalinga underwent an oil boom. Returning with a modest stake from his Yukon endeavors, Brix formed a water company on his homestead and made a fortune investing in oil properties. By 1915, Brix and his associates owned 1400 acres of west-side oil lands. He was associated with the Confidence Oil Company, was President of the B & B Oil Company, President of the San Francisco Oil Company, a director of the St. Paul & Fresno Oil Company, and a one-sixth investor in the Coalinga Syndicate.
Having relocated to Fresno by 1903, Brix invested heavily in properties in that city after 1909. Not only did he commission his magnificent mansion on Fresno Street, but he was an important stockholder in the Hotel Fresno development. He also was responsible for the construction of the attractive four-story Brix Apartments in 1912. Though Brix died in 1915, his dream of a multi-story office building was accomplished by the Brix Estate in 1922 with the construction of the imposing Brix Building on Fulton Street.
In addition to its historical associations, the Brix Mansion possesses considerable architectural significance. Designed by architect Edward T. Foulkes, it represents a brilliant example of a period-inspired Italian Villa, the only residence in Fresno built in this lavishly-embellished style.